Standing at the cash register at Frank’s Famous near Montrose on Wednesday, Roger Frey can’t focus on ringing up my sale. It’s not just because I keep peppering him with questions. It turns out he spent the wee hours of the morning roasting and carving a whole slew of turkeys, and multiple side dishes, for customers like me who didn’t want to do the work themselves.

The chef is spent. His eyes are bleary. He jokes with me that he’d just as soon eat an In-N-Out burger than look at another turkey come dinner time Thursday, but that he’s already been forewarned he’ll be expected to do the honors of carving one of the big birds for his mother-in-law’s table.

Roger’s wife, Tracy, steps out from the kitchen to greet me. It seems I’m the first to arrive today to pick up an entire Thanksgiving feast, and they are slightly behind getting all their orders pulled together. One of their free-standing refrigerators conked out on them, and they found themselves in the middle of the night putting all the foodstuff they’d prepared in their walk-in cooler. Once that was achieved, they were too tired to finish labeling everything for the customers who would be streaming in today to pick up their orders.

I’d already suspected as much, because I’d spotted stacks of boxed pies on the counter behind here, all with customers’ first and last names on them — but ours was not among them. (By the way, having read all those other names, I now know who among us doesn’t bake their own pies to add to the groaning board on the holiday. I’ll keep everyone’s secret, as long as you keep mine.)

After a flurry of activity, our completed order is bagged, paid for and toted out to the trunk of my car. Unloading it at our home, I can see that the food looks wonderful. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it on the big day. And it’s a real bonus to know there won’t be much in the way of pots and pans that need washing after our feast.

Thanks to the Freys, we’re cooked!

***

This is the third Thanksgiving in a row that Gil and I have felt slightly cast adrift. Most of the family members we used to share our table with are either no longer among the living or have moved far enough away to make getting together a challenge.

Most keenly, we miss our daughter. A single young woman, she’s living in Louisville, working in a hotel overlooking the Ohio River that needs all hands on deck every holiday. So we make do with phone calls. It’s not quite the same as reaching out and smacking her hand when she tries to grab something off my plate, but it will do until we can entice her westward once again.

A co-worker of mine, Olga, has taken pity on plight. She and her significant other have agreed to be our rent-a-family for the day. Happily, they endorsed the idea of my ordering a pre-cooked dinner and will join us around the dining table. Gil and I are thrilled to have them, as it turns out that juggling our Thanksgiving dinner plates while sitting in front of the TV isn’t quite as much fun as we first anticipated.

However you spend Thanksgiving, I hope it is filled with ample turkey and good humor. Have a memorable holiday.

CAROL CORMACI is the managing editor. Email her at carol.cormaci@latimes.com.